We are told that God never changes, but the way we worship and the teachers/preachers certainly do change. I love reading about the preachers who made such a difference as our country was being settled. One of these was Sam P. Jones.
Jones was an alcoholic lawyer who became a Christian. Later, he was an evangelist (revivalist) who led crusades all over the country. The following excerpt from the book, Life and Saying of Sam P. Jones by Mrs. Sam P. Jones, tells of a revival in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1884.
At Chattanooga he (Sam Jones) held one of the strangest and most peculiar, yet powerful meetings in his life. Dr. G.C. Rankin, who was pastor of the old Market Street church, tried to get the ministers of the other denominations to join him in an invitation to Mr. Jones for a union revival. Not one of them was willing to enter into such an arrangement; then Dr. Rankin invited him to hold the meeting in his church.
The newspapers were soon full of the proposed meeting, and no little excitement was created by some of the stories circulated. One of the reporters said, "If Sam Jones cuts and slashes into society people, as we understand he does, during his meeting, we are going after him without mercy." Dr. Rankin said, "All right, I will have tables inside the altar railing for the reporters, and they can have a fine chance at him."
The day arrived for the meeting, and Mr. Jones and the pastor started to the church and found the streets packed for 100 feet with people trying to crowd into the building. Finally, they reached the pulpit, and after a song and prayer, Mr. Jones was introduced. He referred to the singing, saying, "You can stop that singing, I could take two or three Negroes down in Georgia and beat all such music as that."
Then, leaning on his hand and resting with his elbow on the stand in his inimitable style, he stared at the reporters for two or three minutes without a word. The congregation began to laugh, and for five minutes there was an uproar. Then, without changing his position, he said, "My! my! I would not mind being swallowed by a whale, but to be nibbled by such a lot of tadpoles as you reporters is enough to give a man the jimjams." The congregation was convulsed. Then he said, "Boys, I know the threats of some of you, and if you bother me you will hit the ground rolling. I will have four shots a day at you, while you will only get one nibble a day at me, and if you can stand it I can."
He preached, and at the night service the audience was still greater, and he said, "Now the next sermon will be at six o'clock in the morning." The people went away feeling that no one would be present, but next morning before good daylight people were seen flocking towards the building and the church was full, and you could scarcely find a vacant seat. He preached four times a day, and the people were being converted at every service. The newspapers, instead of carrying out their threats, filled the papers with his sermons, and editorials rang with his praises.
After that night the preachers joined forces with him, and the meeting was no longer confined to the old Market Street church, but adjacent churches thrown open to overflow meetings. The meeting continued to grow in power until many of the most prominent men of the city had been converted. The friendship and love of the citizens of Chattanooga for Mr. Jones increased as time went by, and some of the warmest friends he has in the world are the converts of that meeting.